Stars and Stripes

“I thank God for my life,

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and for the stars and stripes.
May freedom forever fly; let it ring.
 
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Salute the ones who died,

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and the ones who gave their lives,

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so we don’t have to sacrifice…

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 all the things we love…” Zac Brown Band (Chicken Fried)

This song debuted back in 2008, which is also the first time this flag few at my mom’s house. The song is one of my favorites—it evokes so much emotion that I can’t help but sing it as loud as possible every time it comes on (and when we’re on road trips and driving around during the summer, it’s on our playlists often).

But this flag, oh, this flag symbolizes so much. In 2008 this flag in particular flew on my husband’s plane during his very first deployment. He and his crew flew it proudly over Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), and now it flies at my mom’s house in New Mexico.

Memorial Day honestly never meant more to me than just another welcomed day off for my husband, and an excuse to drink beer and eat some grilled hot dogs. But the older I get, and the deeper we get into my husband’s military career, the more I realize what Memorial Day is actually for: remembering.

I realize that less than 1 percent of the population has served in the military, so I understand how people aren’t informed, but I wish more people knew that Memorial Day is not for celebrating, partying, or for thanking those in uniform for their service. Don’t get me wrong—you can thank some one any day, but it’s not the day to say, “Hey! Happy Memorial Day, thanks for your service.” Nope. It’s a day to remember those who served. It’s a day to remember those who gave their lives. It’s a day to remember that they sacrificed so you can go and eat that fried chicken, and drink that beer. So while you’re out partying, at least take a minute to remember why you have the day off, and even if you don’t know anyone personally who has died in the line of duty, remember that there are families missing someone dearly today.

*Parts of this post originally found here

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